Raise minimum GPA

Published 8:14 am Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Franklin City School Board wisely sent back to work a committee charged with recommending higher academic standards for athletes and extracurricular participants.

The committee of educators and administrators last month recommended a slight increase — from 1.25 to 1.5 — in the minimum grade-point average required for extracurricular participation. The school board was underwhelmed and said to the committee: Try again.

We’re with the school board, which deserves much praise for having the courage to tackle this important issue. The board could have let our schools rock along with mediocre standards, perhaps even finding solace in the fact that some school divisions, including Southampton County, and the Virginia High School League have even weaker standards.

The education of our children should not be a race for the bottom — or an ongoing exercise in dumbing down the system in order to coddle low achievers. Rather, our schools must set the academic bar high, give students the tools they need to succeed and hold them accountable.

The committee’s suggestion that a quarter of this year’s Franklin High School extracurricular participants would have been ineligible had a 2.0 minimum GPA been in effect ignores an important point: Given a higher standard, the overwhelming majority of borderline students, especially those who are motivated by their extracurricular participation, will do what it takes to maintain their eligibility. Unmotivated students do what it takes to get by — and not an ounce more.

If the city schools leave the minimum GPA at 1.25 or raise it only slightly, they will continue to turn out too many students who, despite their considerable talents on the playing field, are unprepared and unequipped for success in the workforce.